Shopping in Margaritaville
The amount of mainstream press email and related digital marketing topics garner is rather remarkable. Let's run through three recent examples and highlight insights to apply them to your email program.
First is an article from The New York Times titled Online Merchants Home In on Imbibing Consumers. The gist of the article is that people are more likely to spend money after a cocktail … or two or three. Since drinking tends to take place in the evening, certain retailers started emailing their subscriber base later in the day hoping that rather than searching for that "lost shaker of salt" they'll just buy another one.
The strategy was largely justified based on when shopping traffic spikes — after 7 p.m. and at noon during lunch hour. These two time periods have high shopping rates because that's when people have free time — after the kids have gone to bed and when they have a free minute at work during lunch.
If you haven't yet tested a time-of-day approach to email campaign launches, you should. My hunch is that if it works, it's not because they're drunk.
Second, some retailers recently determined that email frequency strategies were created while under the influence. The Wall Street Journal highlighted several retailers that decided enough was enough and they pulled back the reins on email frequency.
Citing Nicole Miller and J.C. Penney as examples of retailers who cut their email frequency (in Nicole Miller's case this resulted in increased revenue from its email program), the near-daily messaging had grown detrimental to the engagement and conversion rates of their programs.
While some companies are nervous about reducing email frequency, there are basic ways to do this that don't require heavy analytics or high risk. I work with a company that has a customer loyalty program where members click 33 percent more often and convert at twice the rate compared to nonloyalty members. No surprise that the audience is interested in, and easily supports, a higher frequency level of email.
"Sabbaticals" for nonresponders can work as well. Pull an audience segment that hasn't responded in months despite repeated touches. Sit them out for a period of time, then re-enter them into the mailing stream, preferably with improved content targeting. The prior absence alone can jolt someone out of their slumber. Another option is to work with a company like Connection Engine that can model the portion of a dormant audience most likely to re-engage.
Finally, I plan to test the findings of the recent study, The 'Conspicuous Purchase' Effect. Based on research conducted through a project whereby consumers shopped on a mock retail site, the study showed that the inclusion of social media icons that allow for sharing (e.g., a Facebook "Like" button, a Twitter "Tweet This" button) impacted the likelihood of purchase.
If the product was one that the consumer would like publicly known was purchased (e.g., a nice martini kit), consumers were 25 percent more likely to buy it when the sharing icons were present. Conversely, if the product was something consumers wouldn't want to be known was purchased (e.g., a jello-shot kit), they were 25 percent less likely to buy it when the share icons were present.
It's interesting that the mere inclusion of the icons was enough to discourage a purchase. This reminds me of the effect the positioning of a privacy statement link relative to the email address capture box can have on email sign-ups. When the privacy link is close to the email address capture box, I've seen the uptake rate on supplying an email address be 10 percent or more higher than when the link isn't present.